Emerson's 3 Peaks Enduro
Words // Kane Fleury
Photography // Jemma Wells and Kane Fleury
New Zealand is in a fortunate situation with the way in which our government has dealt with the global pandemic. It has not come without its uncertainty for hosting events and even before this event it was looking 50/50 if it could go ahead. Lucky for us, the week before the Auckland based lockdown and the restrictions on having events larger than 100 people across the country was lifted. This was following another outbreak of COVID in the community but lucky for us it was contained. We had few restrictions for the race other than recording all the participants and trying to keep the competitors from Auckland from kissing everyone.
This meant that the 9th annual Emerson’s 3 Peaks Enduro got the go-ahead as planned and what a weekend it was. The racing was held across the city using the developing trail network of Whare Flat, the new climbing trail to the top of the Nicols Creek downhill down line and Signal Hill and there was a stacked field across the men's and women's categories. The weeks prior to the event had dusty dry conditions but some mid-week rain meant that the conditions when race day arrived were all-time and loamy.Day 1 - Whare Flat and Nicols Creek
Saturday's racing started in a scenic park in the heart of the student quarter. The sun was out and the day was starting to heat up. The riders received their compulsory race briefing by race director and ex-xc-olympian Kashi Leuchs then they jumped on a shuttle and were driven out to start the race at Whare Flat. There were 5 short stages at Whare Flat which were through loamy, rooty pine forest with several new bits of trail to sample and multiple new unraced trails. The freshest of these was only just finished the night before Friday’s practice.
After 5 stages amongst the pine forest, the riders headed up past a feed station to grab some more water and a bit of tucker then started the grind up and over the top of the ridge that looks out over the city to everybody’s favourite stage in Nicols Creek. If you have not ridden Nicols Creek before it is arguably one of the best trails in the country for its grade with enough spice to keep any seasoned rider on their toes but mellow enough to have a cracking time on the rough, steep, rooty single track in native bush. Once riders had made it down to the bottom of the stage they had a pleasant coast down through Leith valley back to the gardens where the race began to get stuck into some of the locally produced Emerson’s beers and some burgers to fill those empty stomachs.
The competition is not as obvious on day 1 with the trails spread out over quite a distance but after the overall times were released on Saturday night it was obvious that Sunday was gonna be a heater of a race. Charlie Murray, last years overall winner was in first place with a total elapsed time of 21:20 was in front of Cole Lucas by 8 seconds (total time 21:2
and was in front of Keegan Wright by 51 seconds (total time 22:11). In the womens overall event, Jenna Hastings had entered the Novice Women category (age 15-17) from Rotorua had a steaming hot day taking the preliminary lead with a total time of 25:31. Robin Goomes was running close behind with a time of 25:35 and Raewyn Morrison in third with a time of 26:29. The results were close and the game was set for an exciting second day of racing in Dunedin.Day 2 - Signal Hill
A classic Blue Bird day dawned in Dunedin as the low cloud lifted the chatter at the start line was of how good the weather and the trail conditions were. Things were set for three exciting laps of the classic trails down Signal Hill. Despite this venue being the “old favourite” in town, the local lads managed to open up an old trail that was lost during a logging operation to provide some fresh trail. This venue offers up challenging riding to those who are not used to battling rocks and running high pressures to prevent rims been smashed to bits. This years course had less lung burning pinch climbs that in the past but otherwise was filled with tracks that provided enough spectating for the punters and those first to finish the race.
Charlie Murray showed the diversity and consistency of his skill as a rider and continued his domination of the Emerson’s 3 Peaks Enduro taking the win over Cole Lucas by over 10 seconds, there was a bit of a battle happening further down the ranks with Daniel Self taking third place over Keegan Wright. The racing and the skills on display from most of the field was impressive. What amazing after seeing multiple of these events was the lack of injuries that happened despite the dry, fast conditions. What a weekend to race bikes.
The womans champ of the weekend was Jenna Hastings who dominated the Dunedin tracks and took the win with an overall time of 37.47. In second place was Robin Goomes and in third was Kathy Morris.
Until next time!
Overall results can be found on the event Facebook page here: